The Fight of ‘The Warriors of Qiugang’
In 2004, Zhang Gongli began a legal battle to rid his community of pollution caused by a nearby pesticide plant. The farmer’s once-idyllic village of Qiugang in China’s eastern Anhui province had become choked with toxic waste: Residents fell ill, crops suffered and waters filled with dead fish.
Mr. Zhang’s years-long struggle is the subject of “The Warriors of Qiugang,” which has been nominated for best short documentary film at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Filmmakers Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon followed Mr. Zhang and his fellow villagers with a camera for three years beginning in 2007, as they faced threats and intimidation from the factory owners and local government officials. The factory was eventually dismantled and moved to an industrial park several kilometers away.
The documentary portrays the difficulty of organizing a legal battle against big business. “I feel scared. I really don’t want to be a hero,” Mr. Zhang says in the movie. “But the next generation will suffer. We risk our lives for their happiness.”